Europe's leaders offer support for Syria airstrike while U.S. left looks for something to complain about

As Ed noted earlier today, allies of the United States around the world have reacted positively to the airstrike against Syria, but here at home, the progressive left is struggling to find something to complain about. They know that any action taken by President Trump must be wrong, they just haven’t figured out how to go on the attack quite yet. First a refresher on the international response from the Hill:

Leaders across Western Europe, as well as anti-terrorist allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey, welcomed the attack as an effective means of retaliation for the Assad administration’s alleged role in a chemical attack in northern Syria on Tuesday that killed scores of civilians, according to The New York Times.

“The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said in a statement.

In a joint statement, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Assad himself brought on the U.S. attack on the airbase and “carries responsibility for these developments.”

Hollande and Merkel also said, “[Assad’s] repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against the population demanded sanction.” In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “fully supports” the strike. The Ukranian foreign minister said, “For those who break who break international law by using chemical weapons, impunity would lead to further crimes.”

Here at home, some on the progressive left clearly have a lot invested in the defense of President Obama’s dithering, non-reaction to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Giving Trump any credit now is an implied rebuke to the previous administration. So here’s former Obama administration spokesperson Jen Psaki writing at CNN [emphasis added]:

Taking targeted military action this evening is a step that probably felt powerful to Trump. It shows action. It shows force. It shows military strength.

The problem remains: What is next? Syria is led by a brutal dictator who is guilty of war crimes. But it is also a sovereign country with powerful friends, including Russia and Iran.

Trump acted without consulting Congress, without clear legal authority and without any coordinated military action by our partners and allies.

She concludes with this divided approach to moving forward: “there are questions that both supporters and opponents of Trump deserve answers to in the coming days.” The bottom line (apparently) is that America is still made up of supporters and opponents and Psaki wants to see that division express itself on this issue as soon as possible.

Similarly, Igor Volsky of the Center for American Progress Action has a series of questions:

Once again, the goal here is to, first, question the legality of the action and raise partisan hackles on issues like Syrian refugees (#2), GOP hypocrisy (#3). The American left is scrambling for some way to controversialize this and turn it into another domestic partisan battle.

What “The Resistance” would really like to say is that the airstrike represents, “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext.” And they could add that the administration acted in, “tough contradiction with international law and without UN approval, in violation of its own procedures stipulating that the Congress must first be notified of any military operation unrelated to aggression against the US.”

The first quote is actually what Putin’s spokesperson said and the second is what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. So the progressive left may need to rearrange the wording a bit but the gist will be the same.